Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 7

The cards in today's set really has no theme; they are just the last few that don't really go with anything else.

Click to enlarge and read.
Charity, is, of course, part of the overall theme of Good Will.  The trick is that, Coppers can clog your deck in a high money game, so it might not be quite as helpful to other players as the name implies.

Clean Sweep has gone a few revisions, most notably from only allowing the player to discard Victory cards to allowing them to discard any cards.  In that way, it is now kind of like a Cellar (from vanilla Dominion) for Actions instead of Cards.  It's not particularly useful except in a game with few cards that give extra actions, so I'm considering a bonus or two; perhaps you start with +1 Action just by playing it.

Kitten is cute, and might appear useless at first, but it combos really well, especially with any cards like the new version of Gamble, or Mystic (from Dominion: Dark Ages).  In some games Kitten can be more helpful than you think.  Of course, being able to do basically anything with your own card is quite powerful too.

Being that these last cards are a variety of random cards, of course we must use Dominion: Cornucopia for the Suggested Set.  This is "Spice of Life":

Cornucopia: Farming Village, Harvest, Horn of Plenty, Hunting Party, Jester, Menagerie, Tournament, Young Witch
Good Will: Charity (Witch's Bane Card), Clean Sweep, Kitten

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 6

The mini-theme of today's cards is Money.  These are cards that get you lots of money, leading to quite a rich game.

Click to enlarge and read.
The idea behind Beanstalk is that, like a magic Beanstalk, this card grows large.  Also, in the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, each time Jack went up the Beanstalk he came down with more and more riches.

Crown is so useful I wonder if it should also be worth $6, or lower the extra cash you get for trashing it to +$3.

Ditto Genie.  Although you are required to trash Genie, it is so ridiculously powerful just for the +$5 that I'm thinking of lowering it just so there isn't an automatic Province nearly each time you play it.  But for both Crown and Genie, I should test them in a low money setting first, to see how well they work out under those circumstances.

Thanks for Shopping is a fun card that's pretty much always good to play.  Notice that you get money depending solely on how many Buys you have at the time you play it, but even if it's the only card you play, you get +$2 from it.

"Far East Riches" is a suggested set with Dominion: Hinterlands:

Hinterlands: Cache, Crossroads, Ill-Gotten Gains, Mandarin, Spice Merchant, Trader
Good Will: Beanstalk, Crown, Genie, Thanks for Shopping

Previous cards, fixed:

Click to enlarge and read.
Gamble needed serious reworking.  Already once it was redesigned, but I don't want to give up on the concept of it.  This new version of Gamble may work better than previously, but of course the proof is in the testing.  The key here is that when you gamble, you may end up losing money by playing it, which is a big part of the concept.  Also, I want to keep other players in the loop of it, because interaction is important to me.  I could simply say something like "You reveal the top four cards of your deck" but then you might as well be playing a slot machine instead of Poker.

When you put Indulgence right next to Chapel, you realize it's not quite worth the price.  So I lowered the value of Indulgence to 2, and while I was at it I also added that, before you trash a Treasure, you may put your deck into your Discard pile.  That way, if you know you have a Curse somewhere, but it's not in your Discard pile or hand, you can still get to it.

(At the end of this Monthathon, I'll post a PDF of all the cards so you can easily print them out.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 5

The mini-theme of today's cards is Victory Points.  These are Victory Cards or cards that help you get Victory Points.

Click to enlarge and read.
Acreage is a simple enough Victory Card, worth a different amount depending on how much money you have.  It is not about how many treasure cards you have, but sum total, so having Silvers are better than having Coppers, etc.  Big money games can make this a great investment.

Landscaper is a combo Action/Victory Card.  It gives you one Victory Point at the end of the game, but also notice that each time you play it, you get one Victory Token, which is a mechanic introduced in Dominion: Prosperity.  You also get extra money during your Buy Phase based on how many Victory Cards you have in hand or in play.  This one, I've found, is a very fun card to play with.

Louisiana Purchase is also a simple card, based on other cards which essentially make cards "go on sale" in a way; though this is specific to Victory Cards.  My current playtests with this card have been unsuccessful, so I'm considering making Victory Cards drop from $1 off to $2 off, but more testing will be needed before I make that decision.

"New World Ventures" is a suggested set with Dominion: Prosperity:

Prosperity: City, Expand, Monument, Peddler, Quarry, Trade Route, Venture
Good Will: Acreage, Landscaper, Louisiana Purchase

Previous cards, fixed:

Leprechaun: I've clarified so that when you trash a Treasure and gain a Treasure of lower value, that gained Treasure goes into your hand.  Otherwise, if you are forced to trash a Gold, it can be too devastating.

(At the end of this Monthathon, I'll post a PDF of all the cards so you can easily print them out.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 4

The mini-theme of today's cards is Attacks.  These are the last couple of Attacks and ways to recover or defend against Attacks.

Click to enlarge and read.
Cooperation is kind of like a mix between Laboratory (from vanilla Dominion) for you and Lighthouse (from Dominion: Seaside) for everyone.  This card adds to the major theme of Good Will, in that everyone is helped by the card.

Indulgence allows you to trash Curses, but at a price.  My first stab at this card only allowed you to trash Curses in hand, so in order to use Indulgence, you had to have at least one Curse in hand and at least one Treasure in hand.  That was a little too useless, so to compensate I allowed the player to look through their discard pile for Curses, as well.

Landlord is an interesting little attack, since it definitely hurts, but it also might help just a teeny bit.  Since Estates are Victory Points, but are small and clog up your hand, you usually don't want them, but towards the end of the game when you're struggling to get all you can, it might just be useful to the victim.

Misery can be quite a devastating attack if used right, or might be helpful for everyone.  You might decide to trash a Curse from your hand, and everyone else then might be able to trash a Curse or Copper; if you trash a Gold, everyone else might be forced to trash a Gold or even a Province.

The idea for Misery came from the phrase "Misery Loves Company", which is also the name of the suggested set with vanilla Dominion:

Dominion: Bureaucrat, Cellar, Chapel, Throne Room, Village, Witch
Good Will: Indulgence, Cooperation, Landlord, Misery

While I've been posting these, I've also been testing the sets I've designed, so I've got some fixes and errata to add:

Clarifications/errata to previous cards:

Borrow:  When you give the card back to the other player at the end of your turn, it goes back into the player's hand.  If you give it to the player to your left with Masquerade (from Dominion: Intrigue), they now have it in their hand, and you don't, so you can't "give it back" since you already gave it back.

Fixes to previous cards:


I decided that Philanthropist, as it was before, wasn't worth the price.  I always was a little iffy on the standard "plus" bonuses with this card (it was a unique combination, but not an entirely useful combination), so this way, with an extra +1 Card, I think it's worth the cost (plus the potential bonus card from the special rules text).

(At the end of this Monthathon, I'll post a PDF of all the cards so you can easily print them out.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 3

The mini-theme of today's cards is Irish folklore.  No real reason, other than a purely visual theme.  I think one of my original plans for this expansion was to have cards that chained together in very specific ways, and this set is the remnants of that idea.

Click to enlarge and read.
Irish Blessing is a simple card, but can swing a lot your way.  Of course, it's a little specific in that you can only trash a Curse, so if Curses can't be gained by attacks or other means in the regular set of cards, the only way to take Irish Blessing's full effect is to buy a Curse, and that's a big risk.  But even so, I like it, partly because I think that Curses should be more prominently used in the game, so just make sure that if you select Irish Blessing, you also select a card that gives Curses (and while you're at it, it plays off Shamrock, too--see below).

Leprechaun is a devious attack to others and bonus to yourself.  My original idea was much more devastating: each player had to trash all the Treasures in their hand.  I used to make it cost 7 or even 8 to justify it, but ultimately it was still just a little too evil (kind of like Possession in Dominion: Alchemy: despite its high cost, it's simply too evil of a card).  This version is a little nerfed, whiled still retaining the spirit of the original.

When I originally designed Shamrock, the reaction text was simply "discard this to block a Leprechaun," but with that kind of specificity, you pretty much have to use Leprechaun to make Shamrock worth it.  The new text is neater, I think, being more applicable, and even gives the player an interesting option.

Here is a suggested set with Dominion: Seaside called "Ireland's Shores":

Seaside: Cutpurse, Ghost Ship, Haven, Lighthouse, Merchant Ship, Native Village, Sea Hag
Good Will: Irish Blessing, Leprechaun, Shamrock

(At the end of this Monthathon, I'll post a PDF of all the cards so you can easily print them out.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 2

The mini-theme of today's cards is the major theme of Good Will itself: helping other players.  With these cards other players get bonuses during your turn.

Click to enlarge and read.
The trick of Christmas is that it might be a blessing, but it might be a curse... literally.  Since you give any card in your hand to the next player, you might choose to give them a Curse, or perhaps a Copper you don't need.  You might also choose to give them an expensive card that has lost its use late in the game, or perhaps doesn't work with your current strategy, but it might be helpful to them.

Commune is a Village-type card, meaning that, at its base, you get +1 Card, +2 Actions.  However, everyone else also gets +1 Card.

With Philanthropist, I liked the idea of giving the players rewards based on how well you're doing, so if you are rich enough to have a Gold in hand, everyone gets a bonus card.

Surprise is a simple enough card: you draw two cards and discard one card, while everyone else draws one card and discards one card.  It is useful for everyone, but slightly more useful to you.  This is based off Warehouse from Seaside (and more recently, Inn from Hinterlands and others) which have a theme of drawing and discarding.

Here is a suggested set with Dominion: Dark Ages called "Light in The Dark":

Dark Ages: Beggar, Cultist, Junk Dealer, Knights, Marauder, Rats
Good Will: Christmas, Commune, Philanthropist, Surprise

(At the end of this Monthathon, I'll post a PDF of all the cards so you can easily print them out.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dominion Expansion: Good Will Part 1

In college, after being introduced to Dominion (and subsequently Intrigue, Seaside, and Prosperity), I decided to try my hand at designing my own expansion.

I always enjoyed the card Council Room from vanilla Dominion, which helps you out a lot, but also helps out other players a little.  I thought that that theme of players helping each other would make an intriguing expansion, so I devised my own expansion of 24 cards called Good Will.  Not all of the cards help other players, but quite a few of them do; there are also attacks and other ways to interact with players.

So for the rest of the month, each post I'll be showing 3 to 4 cards from Good Will, along with any errata and a suggested set using the cards I posted that day (combined with an official Dominion expansion set of cards).

I've loosely categorized the cards into mini-themes, with today's being Chances.  With these cards, you take big risks when you play them, because you don't know exactly how well you'll do.

Click to enlarge and read.
With Borrow, you don't know what card you are taking from the other player's hand; it could be a Gold, or a useless Estate.  If the card you borrow is trashed during your turn, instead of being trashed, it is given back to the original player (the player whose card it is cannot lose the card in any fashion).

With Gamble, if no other player reveals the same Treasure as you, the Treasure you bet with is worth zero money, because (your card's value) * 0 = 0.  Note that you multiply the amount on your card, so if you and two other players reveal Golds, your Gold (worth 3) * other players with the same (2) = 6, so that particular Gold is worth 6 (other Golds in your hand are only worth the normal 3).  I like the possibilities for this card a lot, since players who have the option to pick from different treasures in their hand may try to outsmart the player who played Gamble.

With Powerplay, if we assume you start with a five card hand and Powerplay is the first action you play, then you've only got 2 cards left in your hand (Powerplay is on the table, plus you discarded two cards), and since Powerplay gives you three actions, hopefully at least one of the other cards in your hand allows you to draw more cards, and hopefully those cards that you draw are actions.  If you are unsure what comes next in your deck, there is a risk that you won't be able to use all the actions from Powerplay.

Here is a suggested set with Dominion: Intrigue called "The Payoff":

Intrigue: Courtyard, Harem, Masquerade, Scout, Swindler, Tribute, Wishing Well
Good Will: Borrow, Gamble, Powerplay

(At the end of this Monthathon, I'll post a PDF of all the cards so you can easily print them out.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Dominion

Dominion Box

Dominion is a deck-building card game designed by Donald X. Vaccarino.  In it, the players' goal is to gain cards worth Victory Points--typically represented by forms of territory (Estates, Duchies, Provinces, etc.), and build decks full of Treasures and Actions to allow them to afford the more expensive Victory Cards.

To set up, basic cards must be divided into piles (various Treasures and Victory Cards), and then ten more piles of cards are picked (called Kingdom Cards), which can be more Treasures, Victory Cards, or Actions, which allow players to do many things, such as buy more than one card in their turn, attack other players, protect themselves, upgrade their cards, and much more.

Only ten piles of Kingdom Cards are used, but in the base game, there are twenty-five options to choose from, so you aren't likely to play the same game twice.  Beyond the base game, each expansion might have twelve to thirty-five new sets of cards, so part of the fun is randomly selecting ten sets of cards to play with and discovering what strategy works best in the game.  Sometimes a card that seems useless in one game can be a necessity in another; sometimes cards interact in interesting ways and play off each other in big combos, netting a player lots of money or devastating attacks.

The base game offers a simple set of cards that introduce such features as Attacks, Reactions, upgrading, and Curses (worth negative Victory Points).  It serves as a great introduction to the game, and can be played a multitude of times without getting boring.

The first expansion, Intrigue, offers the first of many themes: choices.  Many cards in Intrigue give players the option to do one of many things, and it is up to them to decide which to do.

Intrigue Cards
A few Intrigue cards.  Click to enlarge & read.  Notice some of them give you choices.
The theme of the second expansion, Seaside, is Duration Cards, which, when played, last for more than the player's current turn, and usually affect the player's next turn, giving them bonuses.  Also introduced are tokens, which can be used as extra money and to give players Curses.

The third expansion, Alchemy, is small, but introduces a major new form of Treasure: Potions, which means that some cards require you to have a Potion in your hand to purchase them.

The fourth expansion, Prosperity, introduces lots of new Treasure cards and an expensive new Victory Card.  Because of the high money present in games, many cards in this expansion are expensive, but make up for their expense by being very powerful.  It also introduces Victory Point tokens, which count toward your score without clogging up your deck.

The fifth expansion, Cornucopia, is another small expansion with a big theme: "variety", meaning that cards react according to how many different cards you have.  For instance, a card might award you victory points depending on how many different cards you have at the end of the game, and duplicates don't count.  This expansion also offers "Prizes", which are unique cards that cannot be bought in an ordinary way, but can be powerful additions to a player's deck.

Cornucopia Prizes
Prizes in Cornucopia.  Very powerful, but can't be purchased in any ordinary way.
The theme of the sixth expansion, Hinterlands, is cards that do something the moment you buy them or gain them.  Usually in Dominion, buying or gaining a card results in the player putting it into their discard pile, to be shuffled in later, but Hinterlands allows you to do something immediately.

Dark Ages, the seventh and largest expansion, has two themes: the Trash, and upgrading.  In Dominion, sometimes you throw away cards, whether on purpose or because another player forced you to, and these go in the Trash.  Dark Ages makes use of the Trash by allowing you to take cards out of the Trash, and has cards which do something special when Trashed, or otherwise interact with the Trash.  Other cards can upgrade themselves into very special cards; for instance, a Hermit and only a Hermit can be upgraded into a Madman.

Dark ages also introduces Ruins, Spoils, Knights, and other specialty cards that have unique rules, making a rather complex set to play with.

The eighth expansion, Guilds, is expected to be released sometime in Spring 2013, but details of its theme have not come out, only that it is a small expansion, about the size of Alchemy or Cornucopia.

Each of these expansions can be mixed and matched, and there are even additional rules regarding how best to mix and match them.  With so many cards, you might never play the same game twice.  But if you want a solid introduction to the cards and the kinds of impressive combinations that can be made, each game offers named sample sets to play with to ensure you play with every kind of card and see the possibilities.

People Playing Dominion
People playing a set they've probably never played before.
Only vanilla Dominion and the first expansion, Intrigue, come with base cards, and it is best to start with those anyway so the game is not too complex right off the bat.  However, a set of solely Base Cards was released, so that players who found their Treasures and Victory cards getting worn down could replace them.

There have also been five sets of Promotional Cards released which are not part of any expansion.  You can buy them as single packs just like you would by any CCG booster pack.  Some of them look interesting, but I have not yet been able to get my hands on them to test them out.

Overall, Dominion is an epic game that introduces its mechanics in an easy fashion, so timid players have plenty of time to get used to them.  The game is both for casual/family board game players and board game hobbyists who like more complicated games.  It strikes the right balance, which makes it perfect for introducing new gamers into the board game world without being too simple for enthusiasts.

Dominion also has a medieval theme, allowing players to learn cards quickly without overdoing the fantasy elements that might make other games daunting.  Combine this with funny back-of-the-box text and you will feel comfortable quickly learning a new game.

After playing just a few games, you can see why it's won tons of awards, including the Spiel des Jahres and the Meeples Choice Awards.

Head down to your local board game shop and you're sure to find it.  In fact, it's such a staple you can even find the base game in Barnes and Noble and other non-board game stores.  And, of course, it can be purchased online just as easily.

Dominion Tournament
And if you don't like your family and friends, play in a tournament instead!